Walk in love. clothing is a spirituality-based clothing design company that creates shirts and other apparel with a simple yet powerful reminder to “imitate God by loving others every chance we get – no strings attached.” They have been in business over five years, and they turned to IndieGoGo to raise funds to build out their first retail space. We checked in with proprietor T.J. Mousetis this week:
You are running a campaign to fix up your new retail space. As a small business, what prompted you to oopen retail store and why one that needed so much work?
We started in retail three years ago with a 3-day pop-up kiosk in the Park City Mall in Lancaster, PA for three days before Christmas. It worked out really well, and so the next year we opened our pop-up shop for a month during the holidays. Last year we were open for two months. We have done exceptionally well, and we have built up a brand following of friends, bands, churches, youth groups, and others. Our shop in the mall was a great way to get the word out about walk in love.clothing without spending any money on advertising.
Our next step is a retail space. We have a good relationship with the mall, and they only had one space available that has been empty for 2 years because it is too small for a national brand. But it is a perfect space for us, and it is in a great space in the mall, near lots of stores that hit our target market. My wife Brooke and I don’t have kids, so we can take this next step without risking a lot. The space in bad shape because it has been a temporary space for other businesses.
Why did you choose to launch a campaign on IndieGoGo for your business venture?
We have always done things a bit differently as a small business. We have used our personal money, and our parents have helped out with big orders, rather than taking on loans and debt. We just felt that the people we know and the community that walk in love has created would step up to the challenge. They like being involved with something bigger than themselves. We figured that the more involved they are with the store, the more buzz they will help us create. Also, if someone contributes $10, they can go to the store and can see exactly how it was used.
How are you getting people to contribute to your campaign?
We have mostly been using the Internet, posting to Facebook and Twitter a lot. We’re doing a direct mailing to family and friends, and people on our mailing list this week. We’ve also been giving people we know stacks of our postcards to share with their friends. And any time someone asks how we’re doing, we tell them about our campaign! We are not shy about promoting our campaign.
Have there been any nice surprises during your campaign?
Yes! We were surprised by the number of larger donations. Five people donated $1000! Most of those came from family members, and I never asked for or expected that level of support.
The other surprise is the lower number of small donations. When we were figuring out how much we needed, we calculated 100 people contributing $30, or our 4000 FB fans giving $8.63 a piece. We focused on the smaller donations thinking they were going to push us over the top. So we were surprised that we’ve gotten more $100+ donations. We still want people to feel okay about giving $10, and so we launched an iPad giveaway to encourage the $10 donations!
What lessons have you learned that you can share with other Small Businesses thinking about launching their own IndieGoGo campaign?
The first one that comes to mind is to double and triple-checked the perks. We didn’t realize that you couldn’t change them after they are claimed. We realized that ours didn’t say exactly what we meant them to say, and once we noticed, we couldn’t change them. It’s not bad, but it’s something to know about beforehand. I was really excited to get it started and wrote things out, but I would have taken a bit more time to adjust the perks descriptions.
Also, stay positive, but don’t spam people. Don’t send out daily mass emails. I have been writing personal FB messages to almost every friend on FB. I don’t copy and paste the same message. I try to make it genuine. So basically, our best advice is stay personal and don’t annoy people.
Are you having fun with your campaign?
Yes! It has been fun to see people support us. It is great to see family members and friends contribute. We have had people whom we’ve never met make a contribution. It’s encouraging to know that someone out there is behind our brand and what we do. And gets to be more fun as we get closer to our goal!
We are also having fun because doing an IndieGoGo campaign helps us tell even more people will know about the store. We are spreading the word through conversations. We go to a young adult church, and people I’ve never met personally come and ask me how the campaign is going. They want to know about Opening Day.
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Contributed by Karen Seiger, Sirene MediaWorks